How I got a job that needed me back

My expertise is in the English language, not Python or PHP or pick your favorite software computer language. But, as an 80s baby who ended up going to a college with a strong slant towards engineering and computer science (NCSU), it’s no surprise that I’ve been familiar with these languages and software (beyond just using it) for some time. In college, I met people who would ramble on about languages, programs, and features, in what seemed like a foreign language to me, but I liked their enthusiasm.

Clearly, this stuff mattered a lot to them, and that was something to be admired.

Eventually some of them became my closest friends, and as we grew up, graduated, and found jobs, their discussions of software became more focused and their pursuits of a happy career more fervent. They would hopefully stick with their new job, respect their boss, and make a difference on the project they were assigned.

I was hopeful too, but operating in a different field. I was pursuing my major in public relations with a company that I had interned with my senior year. But first, I wanted to see some of the world. I had spent 5 weeks prior to graduation in Peru with my classmates and finished with a minor in Spanish. The trip was a taste of everything I wanted at that time — adventure, culture, space. I had technically been in school since I was five years old, and I wanted a break from the ladder of success. So, I jumped off and went back to Peru for three months.

When I got back, I started a job with the public relations firm I had interned with in college. After a year, I was unhappy and ready to find my own adventure again. I went back to school to study medicine, unsure of where that path would lead me — Nurse? Physician’s Assistant? Med Tech? What I learned while taking classes at Wake Tech Community College was a relearning of things I should have learned better in college — statistics, chemistry, and psychology. It was a time of affirmation of my ability to do more.

When I completed my courses, I took a job practicing patient relations and my phlebotomy skills at a healthcare center in Raleigh. After a few months, I decided to move to Brooklyn and see about a Physician’s Assistant program. Looking back, it was all very rushed — personally and professionally. I worked in Manhattan at Bellevue Hospital under the magnificent director of the Internal Medicine Residency Program there, for a little less than a year. Then, in the blink of an eye, I was back in Raleigh and training to be a nurse aid in order to apply for nursing school. I wrapped up my hiatus to the world of medicine with my certification and a job with a smart and sweet family caring for their young son who had a debilitating disorder. I was alone most days, for long 8 hour stretches of time.

It proved to be a turning point.

I started reading books I’d always wanted the time to read, and those made me think thoughts I’d always needed the time to think. I started a journal online — my first blog. I think it was called, Silent Awakenings. Several months into writing almost daily, and into my job with the smart and sweet family, I took the test for nursing school. I don’t remember thinking that my life had changed and that I would turn down the offer if accepted. I only remember thinking that it made sense to go to nursing school, that it was the next logical step. But, when it happened, I did turn it down. I listened, and I knew my next adventure was waiting over a different hill, near a bigger mountain.

My first job as a copywriter was with a media company that produced content as well as the technical capabilities for healthcare centers to play customized programs for patients in the waiting room. I edited the daylights out of the content they’d been using for years, riddled with misspellings and incomplete sentences. I wrote new copy and strategized with the team on better ways to deliver the content visually. But, I was stifled. Others were too, and eventually people started leaving.

During that time, in the fall of 2010, I created an outlet for myself, something of my own, and called it Downtown Dame. It was a blog about life in downtown Raleigh since its revival from a silent business district to a newly alive and thriving place for people to — as our motto goes — live, work, and play. This thing of my own had grown and given me confidence I hadn’t known before. It was like a little business and I was the CEO. I made the decisions. I made the calls and the cuts. I did all of the work. It was mine, and I could gauge it’s health solely based on my actions. Like, the extent to which I did, or did not, nurture it. Or, the frequency I published articles about certain topics or promoted myself on social media.

But, I desired a great adventure, a great challenge. I needed a project that really got me out of the bed in the morning and a project that needed me back. I kept pushing and listening, pushing and listening. Then, one day, like a tiny rain drop into a bucket, I got a message on LinkedIn from the project and community manager at

I still have it in my inbox two years later. It goes:

“Hi Jennifer,

Do you do part-time work? I’m potentially looking for someone to do part-time copy editing and content entry for Traveling this week, but maybe we can touch base when I return? (If you’re interested.)


A lot has changed since then, but I’ll save that for another post. For now what’s left to say is that I got my job that I needed and needed me back.

I never stopped pushing and listening. I never stop failing faster.

Give it a try. It could change your life.

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